Eric Tucker’s Grilled Peach and Quinoa Dolmas

From the story  The Peachy Time of Year

Sweet, tart, savory, tangy, and spicy, these peach dolmas with their tasty condiments hit all the bases. You could serve the filling as a salad without wrapping in the grape leaves, but consider offering large lettuce leaves that your guests can use as wraps, spooning on the condiments. Choose a firm but ripe high-acidity peach variety such as Summer Zee, O’ Henry, or June Lady.

—Eric Tucker, Millennium Restaurant, Oakland millenniumrestaurant.com

For wrappers
12–16 large fresh fig or grape leaves (substitute brine-packed grape leaves, but omit the blanching process)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups water
For grilled peaches
2 peaches, sliced in thick wedges
1 teaspoon agave nectar
½ teaspoon olive oil

For filling
2 cups cooked quinoa (or other whole grain of choice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons brown mustard seed
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped spearmint
½ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (reserve some for garnish)
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil and lemon juice as needed

To serve
Charred Peach Serrano Chili Purée
Za’atar Oil

Bring water to a boil with the salt and vinegar. De-stem the leaves and blanch them in boiling water for 8 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature. (Omit step if using brined grape leaves.)

Toss the peach wedges with the agave and ½ teaspoon of olive oil and grill until you have dark brown grill marks on each side. (You can use a grill pan or even a hot skillet.) The point is to caramelize the sugars on the peach exterior without cooking it through. Cool to room temperature and slice into small dice.

Warm the tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add mustard seeds and toast until they just start to sizzle and turn grey. Place toasted seeds in a large mixing bowl and add the quinoa, chopped mint and parsley, chopped hazelnuts (reserve some for garnish), and cubed peaches. Mix well, season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°. Place 2–3 tablespoons of the filling on each of the blanched (or brined) leaves and roll up tightly, tucking in the ends of the leaves as you roll. Place dolmas in an oiled baking dish and drizzle with a little olive oil and lemon juice. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight if not serving immediately.

To serve: Garnish with Charred Peach Serrano Chili Purée, a drizzle of Za’atar Oil, and the reserved chopped hazelnuts.

Charred Peach Serrano Chili Purée

1 clove garlic, peeled
¼ cup large-diced yellow onion
1 serrano chili sliced in 4 (remove seeds if you want it less spicy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 diced soft ripe peaches
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, and chili, allowing the ingredients to slightly blacken before stirring. Add the peaches and cook for 5 minutes or until just softened. Purée with the agave and vinegar. Season with salt as needed.

Za’atar Oil

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sumac powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme or dried za’atar oregano (or 2 tablespoons fresh za’atar oregano)

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat and fry the sesame seeds until they turn a light amber. Remove from heat, stir in the sumac and thyme, and then cool to room temperature before using.